SMU looks forward to welcoming students, faculty and staff for the upcoming fall academic semester next month. Preparations continue for a safe return to regular operations, in-person instruction and full campus activities. However, it is important to balance the desire to embrace a traditional college setting with the need to maintain healthy behaviors to keep the virus spread under control.
Faculty may require masks
Masks will not be required at SMU for fall 2021, with a few exceptions. Individuals will continue to have the option to wear a mask anywhere and at any time on campus if they choose.
After reviewing the latest guidance from federal, state and local health authorities, as well as input from the University’s Emergency Operations Center, SMU’s Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the President’s Executive Council, SMU will allow faculty members to seek an exception to the campus no-mask policy in their classrooms through a process that includes advance notice to their department chairs, deans and the provost’s office. Instructors must clearly define their classroom mask requirements and how they will be enforced in the course syllabuses prior to the start of classes. The provost’s office will provide more details on the classroom mask exception in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center and public transportation to campus operated by DART may still require masks to comply with local and federal regulations.
More than 161 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States. Texas Health and Human Services reports that almost 60% of the state population and more than half of Dallas County residents have received the vaccine. Residence Life and Student Housing recently surveyed new and returning students who will live in University-owned housing in the fall. Of the 80% who responded to the survey, more than 84% self-reported that they are fully or partially vaccinated, or intend to be vaccinated soon.
SMU continues to strongly encourage, but not require, members of the campus community to get vaccinated and is making it convenient to receive the vaccine or get tested for COVID-19 on campus. Vaccination continues to be the most effective measure an individual can take to keep learning and working without disruption or illness.
Vaccines and testing reminders
While the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective, including against the emerging variants, breakthrough cases are expected. Evidence indicates that vaccinations may make the illness less severe, less likely to require hospitalization and harder to spread. COVID-19 vaccinations are available at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center for current and incoming students, and for SMU employees and their eligible spouse/dependents. Book an appointment through the health portal or by calling 214-768-2141 (Option 1). After receiving the vaccine, please record your status in the voluntary vaccination reporting tool.
The health center also provides COVID-19 testing for students and employees, but appointments are required, so call first at 214-768-2141 to schedule one. Employees also can receive a test at any DFW area Virtual Care for Families location.
Contact tracing and case reporting
Contact tracing will continue at SMU this fall, and individuals who contract COVID-19 will be asked to identify their close contacts. Campus community members who test positive or are close contacts of a positive case must report that information through the SMU Health Reporting form for employees or the CCC form for students. Remember that a person is not considered a close contact if they are fully vaccinated. Quarantine will be required for those who are unvaccinated should they be exposed to the virus.
Take preventive measures
SMU continues to place the highest priority on the health and well-being of our campus community and expects everyone to practice good preventive hygiene and regularly monitor their health.
For more information, please continue to check the Mustang Strong website or scan the QR Code on signs posted at the entrances of campus buildings.